40 From Our 40: Judy Monnier
Judy Monnier first heard about Ronald McDonald House (RMH, now operating as Ronald McDonald House Charities) through her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. The sorority had recently made RMH its national charity of choice, and Judy, a Duke University graduate, fell in love with the concept of providing a home away from home for families needing a place to stay while they are caring for their hospitalized child. She knew she wanted to get involved.
Judy wanted to bring a Ronald McDonald House to Indianapolis. Even before the Our House, Inc. founding board formed, she was feverishly contacting the Central Indiana McDonald’s office as well as Riley Children’s Health to see how she could help bring a House to Indianapolis. The founding board enlisted Karen Campbell to speak to Alpha Delta Pi. It was through that connection that Judy was recruited to help promote awareness of RMH in Indianapolis. “My first activity was to put volunteers in all the McDonald’s on Hamburger Day,” she recalls.
Together with Karen Campbell and Gordon Durnil, Judy was one of the original members of the community “leg” of the “three-legged stool.” Part of their initial work was to travel throughout central Indiana, raising awareness, money, and recruiting volunteers. They would frequently speak to crowds great and small at schools, social and service clubs, and anyone who wanted to learn more and get involved. Monnier recalled an instance of how she went to one meeting expecting it to be a quiet, small group, only to encounter a crowd of nearly 200 waiting to hear about “the Ronald House.”
By the spring of 1981, the Our House, Inc. board had already raised nearly $175,000 in cash. But not all meetings centered around financial donations. Just as today, the House would need to rely on strong partnerships within the community and the donation of items that would offset the purchase of supplies to build and stock the new House. So, when this grass roots public relations machine finished their presentations, they often walked away with new contacts and relationships in the community. Those relationships frequently lead to in-kind donations of supplies, building materials, and even appliances.
Judy, no doubt, left her mark on the founding of the House, but she insists her work to build the House left it’s mark on her, fostering life-long friendships. “My life was changed so much by the people I met at the Ronald House. Most of my close friends are people I met through RMH.”
Once the House opened, Judy shifted her focus to creating awareness and volunteer recruitment. Speaking engagements became opportunities for volunteer recruitment. New recruits spread the word and brought even more people to serve.
Soon, “Friends of the Ronald McDonald House” chapters began sprouting up across the state in the mid-1980s, helping with fundraising events, propagating the House message, and recruiting even more volunteers. “Friends” chapters continued to operate through 1989, raising thousands of dollars for the House.
If she had only one word to describe the House, Judy has a quick answer, “Love.” She served as an active board member through 2011, and is today a loyal donor, an avid supporter, and overwhelming proponent of RMHCCIN.